In John 18:5 are the majority of the translation erroneously in agreement and has [he] added into the vers.

They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. (John 18:5 - King James Version)

they answered him, 'Jesus the Nazarene;' Jesus saith to them, 'I am he;' -- and Judas who delivered him up was standing with them; (John 18:5 - Young's Literal Translation)

They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. (John 18:5 - English Standard Version)

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) (John 18:5 - New International Version)

Also found in; NLT, BSB, BLB, BRG, CPDV, AKJV, NKJV, KJ21, NASB, NASB1995, NASB1977, NCV, AMP, AMPC, CSB, HCSB, ASV, DRA, DLNT, ERV, EXB, GNT, GNV, GWT, LET, MEV, NET, WNT, WEB. Anderson, Godbey, Hawies, Lamsa, Mace, Webster, Weywoth, Worrell, Worsley.

Only five translations that I can find has it properly translated;

They answered him, "Jesus from Nazareth." Jesus told them, "I AM." Judas, the man who betrayed him, was standing with them. (John 18:5 - International Standard Version)

They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene”; Jesus says to them, “I AM”; and Judas who delivered Him up was standing with them. (John 18:5 - Literal Standard Version)

“Yeshua from Natzeret,” they answered. He said to them, “I AM.” Also standing with them was Y’hudah, the one who was betraying him. (John 18:5 - Complete Jewish Bible)

Also found in; Aramaic Bible in Plain English & New Heart English Bible

enter image description here ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ Ἰησοῦν τὸν Ναζωραῖον. λέγει αὐτοῖς Ἐγώ εἰμι. εἱστήκει δὲ καὶ Ἰούδας ὁ παραδιδοὺς αὐτὸν μετ’ αὐτῶν. Nestle 1904

Totally 47 translation above and 42 of them has it "I am he" and 5 I AM which makes it 89.36% or 9 of 10 has "I am he". The high amount of "I am he" makes me doubt if he refer to I AM "Ehyeh asher ehyeh."

The same phrase Ἐγώ εἰμι is used in john 8:58 NIV, ESV, KJV & YLT and there they have just; I am. If Jesus did not say I AM "Ehyeh". in John 18, why did they "went backward, and fell to the ground".

14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am "Ehyeh" hath sent me unto you. (Ex 3:14 KJV)

Am I right or am I wrong in reading I AM in John 18:5?

  • 2
    My reading of those translations where Jesus says "I am he" indicate that when the officials from the chief priests and Pharisees asked Jesus if he was "Jesus of Nazareth", Jesus replied that he was (Jesus of Nazareth). Interestingly, the NIV comment says that when they "fell to the ground" they "were met in the dim light by a majestic person". Deity? I do so hope someone can shed light on this important questions.
    – Lesley
    Jul 11 at 10:52
  • @Lesley Thanks for your comment! Were can i find the "NIV comment" ? Jul 11 at 10:56
  • 1
    If your question is intending to reveal grammatical mistranslations in English Bibles - Remember [#1.] “Anoki” אָֽנֹכִי֙ means “I Am” stated in Exodus 3:6 ; [#2.] “Ehyeh” אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה means “I Will Be” stated in Exodus 3:12-14. Jul 11 at 11:07
  • 1
    That's the NIV interpretation of how the men who had come to arrest him perceived him. I am not qualified to answer this question, unfortunately, but I look forward to insights from scholars who are. Your sister in Christ.
    – Lesley
    Jul 11 at 11:21
  • 1
    The KJV has 'he' in italic and thus makes it very clear that 'he' is not in the text but is suggested as being idiomatic in English. YLT, the same, as Robert Young has put 'he' in quotation marks. Translators are being careful not to interpret but also being careful not to render the text in non-idiomatic form in English. Such is the delicate balance of translation : both translations have fairly represented what is on the Greek page of scripture, by John, and have left the readers to decide the issue for themselves.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 12 at 2:16

This is a tricky question to answer so I will put the "I AM" statements in context - see appendix below. Any decision about how to translate the occurrence of "I AM" in John 18:5 must consider the following:

  • Jesus' statement "I Am" is in response to the exchange between Jesus and the arresting mob, "who are you seeking" and Jesus replies, "I Am [he?]". Thus identifying Himself as the person whom they seek.
  • However, there is clearly more than mere identification (and an implied objective "he") precisely because the arresting mob fell backward at the obvious display of divine power.
  • Unpredicated "I Am" statements in the the NT are only ever placed in the mouth of Jesus and always identify Him as in some way divine ad allude to Ex 3:14.


It is also obvious that the various versions struggled with these version as evidenced by the variation in the way they translated it. So here is my personal suggestion.

I think that all the above must be somehow recognized in the translation. So I think that two thing need to be done. The pertinent phrase must be rendered, "I Am [he]" and footnoted with an explanation to give the full force of what Jesus was saying, namely, Jesus both identifying Himself to the Mob as Jesus of Nazareth, but more importantly, showing His innate divinity as evidenced by their falling backward. [Then despite this, they then ignore this display and continue to arrest Jesus!!]

APPENDIX - "I AM" (unpredicated) in the NT

“I am” in the Greek (NT) is, “ego eimi”. The verb, “eimi” occurs 2462 times in the New Testament in various forms, but in only about 67 of these cases is the first-person nominative pronoun, “ego” used with it. Generally, the complete form, “ego eimi” only occurs when some emphasis is required.

This present continuous verb, “to be”, is the most common in almost all languages and has several syntactical functions in Greek (eg, see John 1:1 ):

  • Existence, “I am.”, ie, unpredicated (see below).
  • Identification, eg, Luke 1:19, “I am Gabriel”; John 9:9, “I am [that one]”; John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd”.
  • Relationship, eg, Acts 18:10, “I am with you”.
  • Predication, eg, Acts 22:3, “I am Jewish”.

The New Testament shows an interesting and (somewhat) unexpected pattern in the use of the Greek phrase, “ego eimi”, “I am”.

The exact phrase “ego eimi” occurs 48 times in the New Testament. It also occurs 11 times as “eimi ego” which has a very similar but still different construction and all are relational or predicative. It occurs in a few other forms such as “ego gar eimi”, “ego men eimi”, “ego ouk eimi” (I am not), etc, a total of 67 times (one or two are disputed). Of the 48 cases of the exact phrase “ego eimi”, “I am”, just 15 are unpredicated and have (with one exception) the syntactical form existence as opposed to identification, relationship or predication. All are listed below (my translation) unless preceded by “not”, eg, Matt 26:22, 25, plus one exception to be noted.

  • Matt 14:27, Mark 6:50 – “Be encouraged. I am.” [To the frightened disciples in the boat.]
  • Mark 13:6, Luke 21:8 – “Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am’”.
  • Mark 14:62, Luke 22:70 – “Jesus replied, ‘I am’”. [He was then accused of blasphemy by the Jews and condemned.]
  • John 4:26 – “Then Jesus said, ‘I am.’” [To the Samaritan woman at the well. There is a reasonable case for this being identification, but that is a matter of taste.]
  • John 6:20 – “But then [Jesus] said to them, ‘I am. Fear not.’” [To the frightened disciples in the boat.]
  • John 8:24 – “If you do not trust/believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”
  • John 8:28 – “When you will lift up the Son of Man, then you will trust/know that I am.”
  • John 8:58 – “Truly, truly, I say to you; before Abraham existed, I am.” [The Jews then tried to stone Him for blasphemy.] Note that this and the previous two mean that Jesus, in the space of this chapter of John 8 uses the unpredicated “I am” idea in the present (v24), future (v28) and past sense (v58). V24 & 28 appears to be tied to believers’ salvation as well.
  • John 9:9 – “Some were saying that, ‘this is [that one]’, and others were saying ‘no, it is like him.’ But he was saying, ‘I am [that one].’” (This instance is clearly identification rather than existence.)
  • John 13:19 – “From now [on] I tell you before the occurrence, that you may believe when it occurs that, I am.”
  • John 18: 5, 6, 8 – “He said to them, ‘I am.’ …Therefore, when He told them, ‘I am’, they fell backward to the ground.” [This occurred when the Jews tried to arrest Jesus in the garden. It could be reasonably argued that this is a case of identification. However, the fact that the arresting mob fell backward suggests that much more is intended here.]

Significantly, according to Mark 13:6 and Luke 21:8, one of the distinguishing characteristics of false christs is their claim to be “I AM”. Unfortunately, there has been a historical parade of charlatans making such false claims.

Thus, with the obvious and rather trivial exception of John 9:9 (and self-exclusory Mark 13:6 and Luke 21:8), all of the “I am” existence statements in the New Testament, including the 7 in John, were spoken exclusively by Jesus, and all were either the basis for absolute trust/belief and reassurance in Jesus, or were a clear declaration of His claim to be the “I AM.”

  • @DanielDahlberg - many thanks for pointing out this error - now fixed.
    – Dottard
    Jul 11 at 12:34
  • Thanks a lot for such a rich and well answer which expands my understanding and gives a clearer view +1 , ✓ Jul 11 at 12:43

A discussion of Exodus 3:14 and the Tetragram is at https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/84269/in-exodus-314-is-there-a-linguistic-relationship-between-the-tetragrammaton-and/122523#122523

“Anoki” אָֽנֹכִי֙ is the pronoun "I." The tenses in Hebrew are perfect (complete action) and imperfect (continuing action), not time, no past, present, or future. To express to be with present tense meaning pronouns are use. This is the way it is in Exodus while “Ehyeh” אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה expresses future three times. But, in Exodus 3:14 Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh most likely is detached from time and expresses continual eternal existence. JPS translation leaves it transliterated.

Probably the best way to express the meaning of the Tetragram in Greek is ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος (in Rev. 4:8, NA28), "who was and is and is to come (in Rev. 4:8, ESV). The Septuagint (LXX) translates Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν, and Ehyeh as Ὁ ὢν in Exodus 3:14.

Thus, neither the question nor the answer is clear for this question. We don't have Jesus' words in Hebrew/Aramaic. However, we do have Jewish reaction to what Jesus said. Only when they picked up stones can we suggest that Jesus used Ehyeh.


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